‘Britain’s no El Dorado’: Calais mayor urges UK cooperate with migrant-swept city
There needs to be more solidarity between European countries over
migration issues, the city officials said.
“All they want is to cross, hence the difficulty and the misunderstanding from their side, and obviously from ours,” said Calais Mayor, Natacha Bouchart.
Bouchart created controversy on Tuesday after saying that migrants were “willing to die” for benefits. She made the comments to a Commons Home Affairs Committee when a special evidence session was taking place.
The UK has agreed to provide Calais with some €15,000 ($19,000) to help secure the port, which will be spent on improvements in border control and heightened security at the northern French port city after a surge in attempts at scaling the gates there.
“We Calaisians will not benefit from this money,” the mayoral office told RT.
READ MORE: UK govt to pour nearly £12 mn into France for immigration crackdown help
“The system in Britain, according to the immigrants themselves, is generous,” Bouchart stated. Her comments on Tuesday appeared to imply that all immigrants hoped to make it to Britain.
“It’s true that in France, when asylum is asked for, it's complicated, because one must justify an identity, one has to explain why one would like to come to France, one must ask for nationality, which takes around 10 years,” she said.
“That moment that you set foot on British soil, you are accepted by the community. This is not the same in France or other European countries,” she added.
A surprisingly small number of migrants actually, however, end up in the UK. Eurostat figures show that Britain’s 600 asylum seekers per week in 2013 was meager in comparison to Sweden’s 1,000, Germany’s 2,400 and France’s 1,500.
However, Bouchart still reported a burden specific to Calais.
She made calls for cooperation on immigration issues, as it was a problem affecting both nations and was, in terms of France, very specific to Calais.
“Britain is not El Dorado, the British authorities have to cooperate with the city of Calais, so that we could face this problem together, and not fight each other,” she told RT.
However, London immediately challenged that claim saying they were addressing such “pull factors.”